The Hurt Locket is the 13th episode of the third season and the 56th overall.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Seems Dickens knew something about life on the Upper East Side, where the only thing you can count on is that time changes everything. Word has it, S gave up politics to focus on issues closer to her heart.
Nate and Serena decide to explore the boundaries of their new relationship. Meanwhile, Blair suspects that Chuck is having problems forgetting about the mysterious woman he saw at his father’s grave. Serena asks to accompany Damien to a State Dinner but is unaware that he needs her help with a drug exchange. Things are complicated when Jenny crashes the event and Serena inadvertently acquires Jenny's coat with the contraband stash sewed into it. Elsewhere, Vanessa and Dan attempt to move past the awkwardness of Dan’s confession of love. Also, Rufus returns from a ski trip and tries his best to avoid Lily whom he suspects was unfaithful.
The episode begins with Serena telling Blair over the phone while walking the streets about her budding romance with Nate. Blair warns her to take things slow with him, and Serena says he asked her to be his date at a dinner for the French ambassador the next night. When they hang up, Blair sees and picks up the same locket left at Bart's grave from a box on Chuck's dresser. Meanwhile, Serena runs into Damien, who she recognizes from Knightley. They talk for a minute, and decide to meet at a different time to catch up. She asks if he's going to the French ambassador dinner and he says yes. At The Empire, Blair confronts Chuck over the locket. He tells her it's a worthless trinket left at Bart's grave. Blair asks if that's at all suspicious, but Chuck says lots of women really liked him and it isn't worth the trouble to hunt her down. She reminds him of his meeting with Henri Duris, the rumored president of Table élitaire. He tells her he can only get her an introduction, but she's perfectly fine with that. She leaves for the day and Chuck picks up the locket. He then gets a text from his PI, Andrew Tyler, telling him that he found the jeweler and to call him. At the VDW's, Lily grills Jenny on her Christmas break with her mom, and Rufus' ski trip with Lincoln Hawk. Damien arrives in the penthouse, and Jenny introduces the two. He gives Jenny a wrapped box and Jenny asks Lily if they can be alone. Lily pulls her aside, and tells her to keep the door open, then asks if she knows when Rufus is coming home. Jenny answers that she thinks it's that day but to just call him and ask. When Lily's gone, Jenny opens her box to find assorted pills inside mixed with macaroons. Damien tells her he has a puzzle that needs solving. At the loft, Rufus arrives home from skiing and ignores a call from Lily.
Meanwhile, Chuck meets with the jeweler who made the locket. He says he did make it, but doesn't know who Bart gave it to but a woman came in for a hinge repair on it about a month ago. Chuck describes the woman he saw, but the jeweler can't reveal who she is for confidentiality reasons. Chuck reasons that Bart was the original purchaser and it's all he has left of him. The jeweler hands over the receipt, and says her name is Elizabeth Fisher, that she paid in cash, and had it delivered when it was finished. At the Waldorf's, Serena walks in to find Nate waiting for her in the front room. He explains that William was sick of watching him text her so he sent him home early and he wanted to surprise her. They kiss, and then agree to take their relationship slow. However, they have sex on the couch right after. At NYU, Nate meets at the cafe with Dan, who is hoping he'll see Vanessa around. Dan admit she hasn't seen or heard from her since his revelation. He also tells Nate that he read that you need to take relationships slower with a friend over someone you just met. Elsewhere, Serena meets Blair for lunch. Blair immediately picks up on that Serena ignored her advice to take things slow. The four talk in their respective restaurants. Dan advises Nate to make sure Serena knows they're taking it slow and to not let her get caught up in the romance itself. Blair advises Serena to invite some competition into the relationship to make up for their lack of restraint. At the VDW's, Damien explains his situation to Jenny. He's trying to sell drugs to the French ambassador's daughter, but she's under 24/7 surveillance and always surrounded by bodyguards. Jenny suggests meeting her in the bathroom or switching handbags. Damien explains that state dinners are crawling with security and everyone, bags included, will be searched upon arrival; so the big problem is getting the pills in in the first place. Jenny looks over fashion coverage of the girl, Violette D'Amboise, and spots a jacket with empty paillettes on the front. She tells Damien she can make a copy of the jacket and wear the pills in, then switch jackets at the end of the night from coat check. Damien agrees it's not a bad plan.
At the loft, Lily arrives to see Rufus but finds Dan instead. He tells her that he was supposed to be back that day but doesn't think he'd go there first over seeing her. They enter the loft to find it empty, and Lily suggests that maybe he stayed to ski another day but Dan, spotting his skis and luggage, says that probably didn't happen. Lily leaves, and asks Dan to say she stopped by if he sees him. At The Empire, Blair, dressed as Anna Karenina, cals Chuck asking where he is. He tells her he's about to have a meeting, and she excitedly asks if it's with Mr. Duris. Chuck replies that he was unable to make the meeting, and Blair asks if he's in the hospital because there's no other way he could threaten her future like that. He promises to get her her meeting because he'll at the French ambassador dinner. Blair sees the information about the locket, and cautiously asks why he missed the meeting. He replies that he's trying to meet someone with a more unpredictable schedule than himself, and they hang up. After, Chuck asks the doorman of the hotel he's outside if Elizabeth Fisher had returned yet. The man says yes, and Chuck asks why he didn't get her message. He replies that she did but she checked out of the hotel right after. Elsewhere outside, Rufus is wandering around when he runs into Holland. She asks what he's doing standing outside, and she asks if he ended up going away and if he's back for good. Rufus says he came by the building to see her and explain but now he's not sure if he wants to know. She asks him out for a cup of coffee, and they go off together. Back at The Empire, Serena arrives to see Nate. She begins kissing him, and says they don't need to talk about anything at all. He tells her that maybe he should go to the dinner alone, and they didn't want to rush into things. Serena takes offense, and sarcastically says the last thing she should do is rush into things and leaves. In the elevator, she calls Damien and asks him to be her date to the dinner, and he agrees.
The next day, Rufus and Dan talk at the loft together. He tells Dan that he and Lily had a fight and they need time to figure things out. Dan says that not telling her where he is isn't a good plan to figure things out, and that he needs to take his own advice by talking to her and finding out the truth. At the VDW's, Jenny tries on the jacket for Damien and he tells her that while it's perfect, he's going with Serena to the dinner instead. Jenny tells him that there is no way Serena would go to a state dinner wearing pills, and he answers that he probably won't tell her about them then. She threatens to tell her, but Damien says that if she does, he'll be forced to tell her how she knew about them. At The Empire, Blair arrives to leave for the dinner with Chuck, who got a text saying Elizabeth Fisher is now staying at the Algonquin. He tells her that he has to skip the dinner, and she is disappointed that she's missing out on a proper introduction to Mr. Duris. Blair realizes this is about the woman at the grave, and now she's mad that he lied and that he's abandoning her needs to look for a random woman. Chuck says that Elizabeth knows things about his dead mother, such as her favorite flowers, and even knew who he was. Blair reasons that she has no interest in being found by Chuck because nothing has happened in the weeks since he tracked her down. Chuck replies that some things are more important than her social climb agenda and offended, Blair leaves. At the dinner, Serena arrives with Damien, which Nate sees. He's approached by Jenny, who fills him in on who Damien is. They enter together, right after Serena and Damien. They exchange insults, and ignore each other. Jenny compliments the jacket that Serena is wearing, and Damien offers to help her take it off. Serena refuses, saying it's too pretty to take off and it was gift. Soon after, the French ambassador and Violette join the party. Inside, Blair meets up with Serena and meets Damien. He excuses himself to say hi to Violette, and Blair congratulates Serena on her taking her advice. Serena admits it may be working, and then that she can't believe he came with Jenny. Blair replies that she came with him most likely, but Nate will be right where he wants them after the night. She then says that Mr. Duris' entourage of women is perfect and she can't make an impression without a formal introduction. Serena encourages her to try anyway, and she decides to. Elsewhere, Jenny tries to introduce herself to Violette but is ignored as she walks away. Jenny tells Damien he ruined the plan by bringing Serena, and he replies that it isn't too hard to get her out of her clothes so he'll find someway to get the jacket off her.
Meanwhile, Nate tells Serena that he doesn't need to make him jealous. Damien comes over and introduces himself before leading her away. He brings her aside, and asks about Nate. She admits she brought him to make her jealous and he's fine with it. He suggests they commit fully to really make him jealous and attempts to remove the jacket. She says she made a mistake and says she doesn't like him like that. He tries again, but she refuses and walks away with the jacket, with Jenny witnessing the whole thing. Outside, Blair tries to introduce herself to Mr. Duris but is interrupted by the arrival of Chuck. She goes over, and he immediately tells her he came to apologize and that he thinks Elizabeth may be his mother. Inside, Jenny sits with Nate and tells him Serena is about to leave. Nate admits he shouldn't have listened to Dan, and Jenny agrees. She encourages him not to let her get away again. Back outside, Blair tries to tell Chuck that his mother is dead. He says it might have been another one of Bart's many lies, and that while it's crazy, too many weird things have happened to be a coincidence. Including the only locket engraved with an E. He says that he didn't want to ruin her evening or her chances with Mr. Duris, he just wanted to let her know. She replies that nothing is more important than being with him for what he's about to do, and they leave together. Inside, Serena strolls by the coat closet and is grabbed by an arm into the room. It's revealed Nate grabbed her, and he admits he was scared that if they moved too fast things wouldn't work out and he really wants it to. They start kissing and taking their clothes off, jacket included. At the VDW's, Rufus arrives to see Lily to talk. He tells her that he wants the truth about the night she spent with William in a hotel room, and no more lies. Back at the dinner, Damien goes to leave and get his coat from the coat checker. When she comes in to get it, she doesn't see Serena and Nate, but steps on the jacket and opens one of the paillettes with a pill inside. Before he leaves, Jenny stops him and says that he ruined a major deal to fulfill a high school dream of being with Serena. He admits she's right, and she says he shouldn't be so quick to dispose of her. Damien replies that the word about the ruined job will get to his other customers and might put him out of business, plus he owes more money than he can steal back from his dad. He goes to leave, and Jenny sees the jacket on the floor. She loudly says that the jacket is Violette's, and that she needs to have it when she leaves no matter what. The coat check girl quickly hangs it up, and nods to make sure it will happen.
Elsewhere, Chuck and Blair track down Elizabeth at her hotel. Chuck tells her that she ran away from him at the grave, and she admits it was an emotional day for her. He asks what she means, and she says they shared a few memorable months many years ago and she was visiting her mother's grave, only stopping at Bart's to pay her respects. Chuck tells her that she knew the favorite flowers, that she was visiting very late, and knew who he was. She answers that she read somewhere that Bart had a son, and he looks like Bart. He says that most people say he resembles his mother, and she says she never met her. He brings out the locket, and she explains that Bart gave it to her and the E is for Elizabeth; but she thinks he gave it to all his girlfriends at the time. She offers to let Chuck keep it, and apologizes for not being able to help him find what he's looking for, then walks away. He apologizes to Blair for taking her away from Mr. Duris. She assures him it's okay, and that she's going to the restroom before they leave. He goes to bring the car around, and she goes to where Elizabeth is gathering her things. She tells her that she knows she was lying to Chuck, and can tell by her face. She also says that Chuck has spent his whole life believing he killed his mother and if she knows anything that can change that, it would be cruel to not share it. At the VDW's, Rufus is growing tired of Lily using CeCe's sickness as a way to talk around what she did. She says that while she didn't sleep with him, she did kiss him, but that it didn't mean anything to her. Rufus replies that they were engaged and it means something to him, and goes to leave; saying he needs time to figure things out away from her. Lily begs him to stay to work things out, but he leaves before she can finish. At the loft, Dan leaves a message for Vanessa telling her that things around home aren't great with Rufus and Lily, and he needs a friend. At the VDW building, Rufus is on his way down when he decides visit Holland at her apartment.
Back at the dinner, Nate and Serena go to leave when they notice the jacket is missing. Outside, Violette leaves wearing the jacket while Damien and Jenny watch. He tries to get them a cab, but she tells him it wasn't a date and he has to ask if he wants one. Nate and Serena leave, while she steals some random woman's coat. They agree on no more slow. At The Empire, Chuck tells Blair it was wrong of him to let one of Bart's girlfriends allow him to question his mother's death. She comforts him, and tells him she'll always be his family. When she's gone, he looks at the locket again before walking away, leaving his phone on the table. Back at the Algonquin, Elizabeth tries to call him while looking at the other half of the locket.. that contains a photo of her holding Chuck as a baby.
- Blake Lively as Serena van der Woodsen
- Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf
- Penn Badgley as Dan Humphrey
- Chace Crawford as Nate Archibald
- Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass
- Jessica Szohr as Vanessa Abrams (Credit only, as she does not appear in the episode)
- Taylor Momsen as Jenny Humphrey
- Kelly Rutherford as Lily van der Woodsen
- Matthew Settle as Rufus Humphrey
- Kevin Zegers as Damien Dalgaard
- Laura Harring as Elizabeth Fisher
- Sherri Saum as Holland Kemble
- Alexandra Carl as Herself
- Map of the World by Monsters of Folk
- Crystalised by The xx
- Janglin by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
- Wild Wolves by Athlete
- At War With the Sun by The Big Pink
- Spirit Horse by Sea Wolf
- Downtown Jail by Bikini Machine
Chuck: I have more important things to do than search for another member of The Female Bart Bass Fan Club.
Damien (to Jenny): I have a puzzle that needs solving, and I know how you Humphrey's like games.
Dan (to Nate): Listen, the point is, I've dated Serena for over a year. And if you want to be able to make things work, you're gonna have to be able to come up for air. Which isn't exactly her favorite thing to do.
Blair: Now that I'm with Chuck, I can see that Nate and I were only perfect on paper. But you and Nate can finally be be more than just an affair to remember.
Serena: Which is why we didn't want to wait for it to start.
Blair: And why you don't want to scare him off! You are the one thing Nate has always wanted but could never have. It's like a diet. After years of starvation, you can't just let him gorge on sundaes. He'll panic and decide he hates ice cream!
Serena: Except I'm not ice cream and Nate and I don't need to play games.
Blair: Everyone needs to play games. Look, you've already failed to come out of the gate with any restraint or control. Now all you can do is introduce some competition. Make him work for it.
Serena: Blair! That's the worst advice I've ever heard.
Blair: Mhm. Just wait till he starts passing on dessert.
Nate (on seeing Blair in her lingerie): Whoa, hey Blair.
Blair: It's Anna Karenina. You never read it. Don't worry about it.
Nate: I never do.
Dan: So you're not talking to her because you don't want to hear what you think she might tell you?
Rufus: You know, I'm not willing to explain myself, Dan.
Dan: Alright, fine, fine. You can make your own damn waffles.
Chuck (to Blair): I know you may find this hard to comprehend, but some things are more important than your social climbing agenda.
Serena (to Blair): You don't need Chuck, anyone who meets you can see you're an elitist snob who is perfect to run a secret society.
Damien (to Serena on making Nate jealous): Oh, the old "make him jealous by bringing the titled European boy."
Chuck (to Blair on maybe being rejected): Do you really think anything could be more painful than killing my own mother and having my father hate me for it my whole life?
Rufus (on Lily and William's kiss): Well, it must have been one hell of a kiss for you to build all these lies around it.
Chuck: I spent 18 years accepting the fact my mother was dead. It was misguided to let one of my father's girlfriends allow me to question that. To hope things may be different.
Blair: Your real mother would never turn her back on a chance to know you.
Chuck: I don't have a real mother, Blair. I never will.
Blair: That doesn't mean you're alone. I love you, Chuck, and I'll always be your family.
- The episode title is based off the movie title The Hurt Locker.
- Holland lives on the 24th floor of the VDW building.